School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

SOEST in the News: 2014

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Kikowaena circle logo

Kikowaena: The Center of the Circle

In the Hawaiian language the word kikowaena means “center of the circle.” The circle of SOEST reaches far and wide: to our university, our community, our Hawai‘i, our world.

Please join us in supporting undergraduate education through the Kikowaena Scholarship Campaign as together we establish an undergraduate student scholarship endowment within SOEST, and use that endowment to recruit and retain talented students within our degree programs. Our mission to provide a world-class education, contribute to a high-tech economy in the State and Nation, and promote sustainable use of the environment begins with our students—their success drives so much of what we do forward. The Kikowaena Campaign is designed to start with the stewards of our impressive School: the faculty, researchers, staff, alumni, and friends of SOEST.

For more information, please download the Dean’s introductory letter PDF and the FAQ PDF; to give, please download the gift form PDF or visit the UH Foundation donation page.

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Mānoa Green Days (MGD) schedule

The 2014–15 “power-down periods” for the UH Mānoa campus are:

Thanksgiving Break
From ~6pm Wednesday 26 November thru Sunday 30 November 2014

Winter Break
From ~6pm Wednesday 24 December 2014 thru Sunday 04 January 2015

C-MORE Hale, HIG, MSB, and POST will be open. SOEST main Personnel Office will be closed on 28 Nov 2014. Both Fiscal and Personnel Offices will be closed on 26, 29, 30 & 31 Dec 2014. RCF will be closed 26 Dec 2014 but will be monitoring email if any problems should arise. The Dean’s Office will be open 8 am–4:30 pm, M–F, except for public holidays.

Campus Security will secure MSB and C-MORE Hale at ~5:30 pm, and POST at ~11:30 pm. For Holmes Hall schedule, please visit the main MGD website. Other information about campus service availability and preparing your office for the period which may be without power have been included in the MGD Memo (PDF).

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Nov 21: “Giant Impacts in the Early Solar System: Clues from Meteorites”

Ed Scott

Hawai‘i Institute for Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)

Tuesday 25 November at 7:30p
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC)
POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Please see the flyer PDF for more information.

Image of tagging shark

Nov 19: Update on Hawai‘i tiger shark tracking research

Scientists tracking tiger sharks here in Hawai‘i will update the public with their findings as part of Waikiki Aquarium’s Distinguished Lecture Series on Thursday 20 November at 7 pm in the Mamiya Theatre on Waialae Avenue; admission is free. “I’m going to be providing update on that Maui project and revealing to the public for the first time some new tiger track shark tracks for animals that we’ve tagged around O‘ahu off the North Shore over the last few weeks,” said Carl Meyer, a Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) assistant researcher. Each shark is equipped with a tracking device to study its natural behavior and movement patterns around the islands with the goal of gaining a clearer understanding circumstances bringing sharks and humans in contact.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2; read about it at UPI.com and UH System News (added 11-26-14) You can track the tagged animals online on PacIOOS’s Hawai‘i Tiger Shark Tracking map. Image courtesy of KHON2.

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Nov 18: Hawai‘i plans for possibility of extreme tsunami

The City & County of Honolulu has updated its tsunami evacuation zone maps, adding a second extended zone in case of an extreme tsunami like the one that struck Kaua‘i about 500 years ago. “In any person’s lifetime there’s like a 5% chance this will happen, so it’s a low probability but it’s high enough that we cannot ignore it,” said Gerard Fryer, HIGP affiliate faculty and geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). ”As people look at the new evacuation maps they’ll see there's much more flooding. Then they’ll realize the power of one of these waves will potentially have a much greater effect on the islands than some of the events we've seen,“ said HIGP director Rhett Butler, the lead author of the “monster tsunami’  paper.

Read more about it and watch the videos at KITV4 (autoplays) and Hawaii News Now. Link to draft maps and schedule of events at which representatives from the city's Department of Emergency Management will be on hand to present the new maps, discuss the implications for O‘ahu residents, and answer questions. Also, read about the related archived news item “Evidence of ‘monster tsunami‘ found on Kaua‘i.” Image courtesy of Hawaii News Now; click on it to see the full version.

Image of sea surface temperature anomaly

Nov 16: Warmest oceans ever recorded

The “Global Warming Hiatus” — a 14-year global pause in ocean surface temperature rise — may be over. “This Summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year,” says IPRC climate scientist and Oceanography professor Axel Timmermann. “From 2000–2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. As of April 2014 ocean warming, however, has picked up speed again.” The trend has continued into Fall, and 2014 will likely go down as the warmest year on record.

Read more about it and watch the video at KITV4 (autoplays); read more about it in the UH Manoa News, the Washington Post, Science Daily, New Scientist, Quartz, Reporting Climate Science, Image courtesy of A. Timmermann; click on it to see the full version.

Image of lava flow

Nov 14: Monitoring and forecasting air quality around Pahoa

The state Department of Health (DOH) has set up three air-quality monitoring stations to warn of potentially dangerous conditions as a result of the June 27 lava flow threatening Hawai‘i Island town of Pahoa, and is working to make data from the monitors available to the public via a website. Meanwhile, scientists in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences are putting knowledge gained from vog modeling to give Big Island residents a two-day forecast on where the smoke will most likely blow. “Essentially, we input how much burnable material there is at the front of the lava flow and that is burning and producing smoke, and we are modeling the dispersion of that smoke for the residents of the Big Island,” said professor Steven Businger.

Read more about it in West Hawaii Today, KITV4, and Liberty Voice. Image courtesy of AP/US Geological Survey.

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Nov 12: Milton Garces discusses XLR8UH on Bytemarks Café

Milton Garces, HIGP associate researcher and Infrasound Laboratory (ISLA) director, appeared on Bytemarks Café to talk about his Infrasound project and their participation as one of seven student and faculty research teams for the inaugural cohort of the XLR8UH Proof of Concept Center startup accelerator. The Center will harvest promising UH research, develop talented UH entrepreneurs, and connect them to a diverse network of investors and businesses in a program designed to help bring research and products out of the lab and on to the market. Successful technologies may then lead to further funding from the Upside Fund, a UH-focused seed stage venture fund based out of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation (UHF).

Listen to the broadcast on the Bytemarks archive page; read more about XLR8UH in the Pacific Business News and the UH news release. Image courtesy of Bytemarks Café.

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Nov 06: “The Rocket Into Planetary Space”

One of the seminal works on astronautics and space flight has been published in English under the leadership of Trevor Sorensen, HSFL project manager and HIGP professor. Sorensen led the English-language translation of Hermann Oberth’s Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (The Rocket Into Planetary Space) for the American Astronautical Society History Committee, supported by a team of specialists that included HIGP professor Peter Englert. Oberth is considered by many to be the Father of Space Flight and his work eventually led to the Apollo Moon missions. For more information, please visit our Facebook posting.

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Nov 03: PacIOOS wave buoys are serving Pacific communities

The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) deployed a new wave buoy in the waters off Aunu‘u, American Samoa, on 23 October 2014. The bright yellow buoy is located more than three miles offshore and streams data on ocean and wave conditions. The buoy joins the existing PacIOOS network of 13 real-time wave buoys across the Pacific, providing data on wave height, direction, period, and sea surface temperature. PacIOOS deputy director Melissa Iwamoto said, “The new wave buoy in American Samoa will complement our network in the Pacific and will greatly support the decision-making of various agencies across the Pacific, including the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC)."

Read more about it in the UH System News. Image courtesy of PacIOOS; click on it to see the full version.

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Oct 30: Task force: new ocean telecom cables should be “green”

The global system of submarine telecommunications cables that supports our connected world ignores the external ocean environment, which represents a major missed opportunity for tsunami warning and global climate monitoring, according to a recent report (PDF) by a United Nations task force. “For an additional 5-10 percent of the total cost of any new cable system deployment, we could be saving lives from tsunamis and effectively monitoring global change,” said Rhett Butler, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) director and chair of an international committee tasked to evaluate the cable opportunity. Ocean and Resources Engineering chair Bruce Howe and Oceanography professor Doug Luther are also contributors to the report.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now; read more about it in Kaunānā, UH System News, West Hawaii Today, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), and the UH press release. Image courtesy of ALOHA Cabled Observatory (ACO)/SOEST; click on it to see the full version.

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Oct 29: “The Wonderful World of Corals: Harnessing Basic Science to Address an Ecological Crisis”

Ruth Gates

Researcher, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB)

Wednesday 05 November • 6:30pm
Hamilton Library Room 301, UH Mānoa Campus

For more information, download the flyer PDF.

Hanauma Bay photo

Oct 29: “Science Moving Forward: UH Sea Grant Graduate Student Trainees”

November 2014 Hanauma Bay Lecture Series every Sunday in November at 3pm

FREE public lectures at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve; part of the Hanauma Bay Education Program. Administered by UH Sea Grant College Program.

Telly Award winners

Oct 29: Voice of the Sea television series wins six Telly Awards

The Voice of the Sea television series, a signature project of the UH Sea Grant (UHSG) Center for Marine Science Education (UH CMSE), recently received six 2014 Telly Awards, including a silver Telly — the most prestigious award —  for Cultural Programming. The Telly Awards are the premier regional television awards honoring excellence in programming. Voice of the Sea promotes ongoing scientific and cultural work in the Pacific from recognized experts in a half-hour television series shown Sundays at 6:00 pm HST on KFVE (K5 The Home Team). “[It] covers topics from traditional navigation to cancer research to endangered animals,” said Kanesa Seraphin, program host and UH CMSE director. Go to the Voice of the Sea website to watch full episodes or learn more about the show.

Read more about it in the UH System News and South Seas Magazine. Image courtesy of UH CMSE.

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Oct 28: Evidence of “monster tsunami” found on Kaua‘i

A mass of marine debris discovered in a giant sinkhole on the island of Kauai‘i provides evidence that at least one mammoth tsunami, larger than any in Hawai‘i’s recorded history, has struck the islands, and that a similar disaster could happen again. HIGP director Rhett Butler is the lead author of a paper reporting that a wall of water up to nine meters (30 feet) high surged onto Hawaiian shores about 500 years ago. It was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of the Aleutian Islands and left behind up to nine shipping containers worth of ocean sediment in the Makauwahi sinkhole. Gerard Fryer, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) geophysicist and HIGP affiliate faculty, notes that the state is updating tsunami evacuation plans as a result of these findings.

Read more about it in the Washington Post, EarthSky and NBC News, PhysOrg, UH System News, and the AGU press release. Image courtesy of AGU; click on it to see the full version.

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Oct 27: Effects of military munitions continue to be investigated

SOEST began the final phase of an Army-funded research effort on 21 October 2014 to further investigate sea-disposed military munitions off the coast of O‘ahu. This research will take place south of Pearl Harbor at an area designated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as the Hawai‘i-05 (HI-05) site. It is a continuation of the Hawai’i Undersea Military Munitions Assessment (HUMMA), which used towed sidescan sonars, HURL submersibles, and remotely operated vehicles — including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)’s Jason. “HUMMA has dramatically increased our understanding of what is happening at historical sea disposal sites,” stated HIGP researcher and principal investigator Margo Edwards.

Read more about it and watch the videos at KHON2 and KITV4 (autoplays); read more about in the Washington Post, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), UH System News, PhysOrg, ABC News, West Hawaii Today, and Ka Leo. Image courtesy of UHM/HUMMA.

Photo of Darren Lerner

Oct 27: Darren Lerner named UH Sea Grant director

Darren T. Lerner has been named the new director of the UH Sea Grant College Program. In his new position, Lerner will lead and serve the program’s scholarly and creative faculty, staff and partners in successfully moving UH Sea Grant forward … (continued in the UH System News).

HI-SEAS suited excursion

Oct 23: HI-SEAS begins longest U.S. space simulation

On 15 October 2014, six astronaut-like crew members of the third Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission began the longest space simulation on U.S. soil. Prior to entering their dome habitat, participants shopped for dental floss, an ukulele, and slippers, among other things. During the eight-month isolation, the goal is to examine how well a small group of people, isolated from civilization, can get along and work together. “Right now, the psychological risks are still not completely understood and not completely corrected for,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH and the principal investigator for the project. “NASA is not going to go (to Mars) until we solve this.”

Read more about it in the New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post, and Sci-News.com; read more about it and watch the video at The Weather Channel. Image courtesy of T. Swarmer.

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Oct 15: Scientists rethink ecological role of jellyfish blooms

New evidence shows deep-sea animals dine on jellyfish more than scientists previously suspected, reducing concerns that jellyfish blooms may be harmful to the ocean’s ecosystem, according to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. “It’s a good thing”, said Oceanography professor Craig Smith, who published the study with researchers from Norway and the United Kingdom. “… marine ecosystems may be more resilient to the effects of jellyfish blooms than we originally thought.” He said evidence shows jellyfish blooms, or population explosions, are increasing, especially along coastal areas because of climate change and nutrients entering the sea from agriculture and other sources.

Read more about it and watch the video at Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), Kaunānā, West Hawaii Today, and UH System News. Image courtesy of A. Sweetman, C. Smith, and D. Jones.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bytemarks

Oct 13: UH ranked among top universities for excellence in scientific publications

On 10 October 2014, the National Taiwan University Ranking (NTU Ranking) team released the results of its 2014 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities. The ranking lists the University of Hawai‘i as 203rd Overall, and 80th in the United States, out of the top 500 world universities. “This is a welcome recognition of the importance of the scientific research done by our faculty and students,” said Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST and UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor for Research. “We are particularly pleased to be ranked in the top 20 world universities for our work in the geosciences (earth, ocean, atmospheric, and planetary sciences).”

Read more about it, including the five subject areas and/or fields where UH was identified as a leader, in Kaunānā and the UH Mānoa News. Image courtesy of Flickr user Bytemarks.

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Oct 10: G&G PhD graduate finalist in National Geo. competition

Geology and Geophysics (G&G) alumna Carolyn Parcheta’s hopes of getting $50,000 from National Geographic for her science project came to an end with a second-place finish recently. Currently at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), she plans to map Kilauea volcanic vents with a wall climbing robot, but is now looking for another funding source. “I’m working with a robotics team that specializes in rock climbing robots,” Parcheta said. In May, Parcheta tested her robot on Hawai‘i Island. After some reworking, “[i]t moves like we want it to move, and it can take better data.” G&G professor Mike Garcia said that thermal images from infrared cameras on such a robot can help volcanologists better understand the dynamics of lava flows.

Read more about it in the Ka Leo O Hawaii. Image courtesy of C. Parcheta.

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Oct 08: Scientists see severe coral bleaching near O‘ahu

While people in Hawai‘i have been sweating out a lack of trade winds, corals in shallow water around the islands are also suffering. HIMB researcher Ruth Gates said that the warm water and intense UV rays prompt algae inside coral polyps to leave, which starves the animals and turns the coral white. It’s the same phenomenon causing mass bleaching that was detected about 1,600 kilometers northwest of Honolulu. The bleaching found along O‘ahu’s windward coast is especially severe, according to officials at Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR): about 75 percent of the corals surveyed in Lanikai, Waimānalo, Kāne‘ohe, and Hanauma were dead or dying.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now and KITV4; read more about it at The Garden Isle, USA Today, and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (added 10-27-14). Image courtesy of DLNR.

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Oct 07: UH Sea Grant helps Kaua‘i prepare for climate change

The island of Kaua‘i, the oldest of the main Hawaiian islands at approximately six million years of age, is one of the most remote islands in the world. This remoteness, coupled with an increasing vulnerability to coastal hazards due to climate change and sea-level rise, prompted the Kaua‘i County Planning Department to take a visionary step in its efforts to help the community prepare. It commissioned Ruby Pap, a UH Sea Grant coastal land use extension agent based on Kauai, to coordinate a technical study, the Kaua‘i Climate Change and Coastal Hazards Assessment, synthesizing all of the relevant coastal hazard science and providing a suite of policy and planning options.

Read more about it in the Garden Isle News, Ka Leo O Hawai‘i, and the UH System News. Image courtesy of UH Sea Grant; click on it to go to the UHSG publications page to download the PDF.

Photo of girl with umbrella

Oct 04: Hot. Humid. Rainy. No relief coming.

An unusual set of conditions over the past few months has made Hawai‘i hotter and muggier than is usual, and the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting the above average temperatures to continue through January. Normally, a summertime ridge of high pressure is situated well north of Hawai‘i, resulting in a steady supply of cooling tradewinds blowing our way, said Gary Barnes, professor of Atmospheric Sciences. Recently, however, that ridge has been hovering on or near the state and has kept the tradewinds blowing elsewhere. It has also steered storm clouds well to the north, leaving the Islands with a lot of sunny days, light winds, and higher air and ocean temperatures.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy J. Aquino / HSA.

Image of coral bleaching

Oct 02: Scientists see bleached coral in northwest Hawai‘i

Warm ocean temperatures have caused large expanses of coral to bleach in the pristine reefs northwest of Hawai‘i’s main islands, scientists said recently. Mass bleaching has occurred at Lisianski atoll, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) northwest of Honolulu, said Courtney Couch, a post-doctoral researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Coral also bleached at Midway, Pearl and Hermes atolls, but not as severely. Couch called the situation “dire,” particularly for Lisianski. In one shallow part of the reef, 90 percent of the coral was bleached, she said; an average of 35 percent of the coral sites observed at the atoll had bleached.

Read more about it and watch the videos at KHON2 and KITV4 (video autoplays); read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), at ABC News, AP”s The Big Story, and at PhysOrg. AP Photo / NOAAC; courtesy of C. Couch / HIMB.

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Oct 01: Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Effective 01 October 2014, the Department of Meteorology will be named the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Hanauma Bay photo

Sep 30: “The Ocean: The Great Connector”

COSEE Island Earth hosts the October 2014 Hanauma Bay Lecture Series Sundays in October at 3pm

FREE public lectures at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve; part of the Hanauma Bay Education Program. Administered by UH Sea Grant College Program.

HI-SEAS suited excursion photo

Sep 25: Crew selected for eight-month Mars simulation

The six astronaut-like crew members of the third Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission has been selected. Starting 15 October 2014, the participants will be isolated in their dome habitat at the site on the slopes of Mauna Loa on Hawai‘i Island for eight months. This mission is studying group cohesion and factors that affect team performance. “Astronauts are stoic,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH and a project principal investigator. “You ask them how they’re doing and they’ll say ‘fine.’ It’s quite difficult to get at some of the warnings that you might want to detect of conflict or a crew losing coherence. One of the ideas behind the HI-SEAS study is that forewarned is forearmed.”

Read more about it and watch the videos at KITV4 and Space Safety Magazine; read more about it at West Hawaii Today and in the UH System New. Image courtesy of T. Swarmer; click on it to see the full version.

Waikiki Aquarium Distinguished Lecture Series graphic

Sep 20: “The Contemporary Challenge of the Sea: Science, Society and Sustainability”

David Karl

Professor of Oceanography and Director of C-MORE

Thursday 25 September at 7p
Mamiya Theatre, St Louis School, 3142 Waialae Ave, Honolulua

The Waikiki Aquarium will continue its Distinguished Lecture Series with internationally recognized UH Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), David Karl. Admission is free for FOWA members. Click here for more information on becoming a FOWA member, or call (808) 923-9741. Tickets will be available at the Waikiki Aquarium front desk.

Artist's rendition of exoplanet

Sep 19: “Earth-like Exoplanets”

Andrew Howard

Institute for Astronomy (IfA)

Tuesday 23 September at 7:30p
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC)
POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Please see the flyer PDF for more information.

Dave Karl photo

Sep 18: Dave Karl on HPR’s “The Conversation”

Dave Karl, professor of Oceanography and director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), will be speaking about his work with defining the research agenda for the Gulf Research Program on Hawaii Public Radio’s “The Conversation” on Friday 19 September at 8:35 am. Please click here for more about the Gulf Research Program.

Pearl Harbor photo

Sep 15: Navy, HNEI partner on $2.5M power grid study

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has contracted with the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i (ARL/UH) for a $2.5 million energy research project to be conducted by the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute’s (HNEI) GridSTART (Grid System Technologies Advanced Research Team), an HNEI research team focused on the integration and analysis of energy technologies and power systems, including smart grid and micro grid applications. The objective of this research is to develop a power grid modernization strategy and action plan to meet the future needs of the Navy in Hawai‘i, with a special focus on the reliability and power quality demands of electrical service to the shipyard.

Read more about it in the UH System News, Pacific Business News, and Kaunānā. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Johans Chavarro/Released.

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Sep 10: Can modern technology be used to divert Madame Pele?

As lava advances slowly toward homes and ranches in Kaohe Homesteads on Hawai‘i Island, past attempts at changing the direction of lava flows in an effort to protect property were reviewed. G&G professor Michael Garcia explained what happened when Gen. George Patton bombed a lava flow in 1935, trying to keep it from Hilo’s water supply. “He sent out his bombers and unfortunately they weren’t very successful. The bombs either hit the lava flows and bounced off or they exploded within the lava flows and had no effect.” HIGP professor Patty Fryer explains some of the challenges the slopping terrain poses: “A low terrain and lava or water or whatever liquid you have is going to move downhill and that’s the thing that’s the most difficult.”

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now; read more about it at National Geographic. A link to a West Hawaii Today article quoting Bruce Houghton, Gordon A. Macdonald Professor of Volcanology in the department of G&G and science director for the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at UH Mānoa, on the impact of the flow on the Puna community was added on 10-07-14. Image from US Army file footage.

Greg Javar snaps a 'selfie'

Sep 05: Students finish internships at volcano observatory

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) bids aloha to interns Pua Pali and Greg Javar, who gained first-hand experience monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes by working with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists this summer. Pali graduated from Konawaena High School before moving to O‘ahu, where she is now a UH Mānoa senior majoring in geology and geophysics (G&G). Javar, a Ka‘u High School graduate, is a UH Mānoa sophomore pursuing a degree in civil engineering. They were funded by USGS through the Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program (NHSEMP), which provides opportunities for students to excel in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Read more about it in the West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of G. Javar; click on it to see the full version.

Plastic marine debris

Sep 03: The Great Pacific Race aids in data collection

Great Pacific Race — a 2,400-mile adventure that started in Monterey, California, and ended almost two months later in Honolulu — support boat Captain Rod Mayer took water samples at various points along the course as directed by the University of Hawai‘i and Project Kaisei, contributing to the study of the effects of Fukushima Disaster radiation. These samples were delivered to Geology and Geophysics (G&G) assistant professor Henrietta Dulaiova. Since 2009, Project Kaisei/Ocean Voyages Institute has also been a source of information for senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko and scientific computer programmer Jan Hafner of the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), particularly regarding tsunami debris distribution.

Read more about it and watch the video at PRWeb. Image courtesy of Project Kaisei.

Mars 2020 rover image

Aug 25: HIGP scientists on Mars 2020 Rover instrument teams

NASA has announced the selection of seven science instruments for the Mars 2020 rover chosen from a field of 58 proposals received from researchers and engineers worldwide. Among the selections are the Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system, with team volcanologist HIGP’s Sarah Fagents who will work with the team's principal investigator Jim Bell (School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University). Also selected is the SuperCam instrument, with Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy experts HIGP’s Shiv Sharma and Anupam Misra who will work with the team's principal investigator Roger Wiens (Los Alamos National Laboratory).

Read more about it and watch the video at KITV4, in Kaunānā and the UH System News. Image courtesy of NASA.

Climate Change Impacts in Hawaii cover

Aug 22: Is Hawai‘i prepared for the impacts of climate change?

A new report titled Climate Change Impacts in Hawai‘i: A summary of climate change and its impacts to Hawai‘i’s ecosystems and communities (PDF) produced by the UH Sea Grant College Program with funding from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), helps answer questions such as, “What can we expect with regard to climate change in the future, and how can we best prepare? What does climate change look like? What is the current state of scientific knowledge regarding climate change globally, and how does it relate to Hawai‘i specifically?” Dolan Eversole, coordinator of the NOAA Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program for the Pacific Islands Region, is lead author of the report.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), West Hawaii Today, Hawaii News Now, Insurance Journal, PhysOrg and Kaunānā. Image courtesy of UH Sea Grant College Program.

Graphic of planetary microclimates

Aug 19: “Planetary Microclimates”

Norbert Schorghofer

Institute for Astronomy (IfA)

Tuesday 26 August at 7:30p
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC)
POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Please see the flyer PDF for more information.

Schematic cutaway view of the lucinid genus Codakia

Aug 18: Symbiotic survival

One of the most diverse families in the ocean today—marine bivalve mollusks known as Lucinidae (or lucinids)—originated more than 400 million years ago in the Silurian period, with adaptations and life habits like those of its modern members. Publishing in Geology, G&G researcher Steven Stanley tracks the remarkable evolutionary expansion of the lucinids through significant symbiotic relationships. The Lucinidae remained at very low diversity until the rise of mangroves and seagrasses near the end of the Cretaceous. Especially important in their diversification was the lucinids’ development of a symbiotic relationship with seagrasses where they took advantage of the oxygen-poor, sulfide-rich sediments below roots and rhizomes.

Read more about it at PhysOrg. Image courtesy of S.M. Stanley.

Photo of Katherine Robinson in the lab

Aug 12: Moon rocks!

During the “supermoon” of Sunday 10 August the moon was 221,765 miles from Earth, measured center to center, which is the closest the moon will get to our planet this year. Katie Robinson gets a lot closer than that, in a way: she studies moon rocks as a graduate assistant at HIGP. UH has about 120 grams of moon rocks brought here in 1990 for study, and Robinson is investigating the presence of apatite, a mineral that contains water, in the sample. “You get used to working on these tiny little samples …,” she said. “And then you go outside and you look up and you go, ‘Wow, my rocks are from there. My samples are from there. I’m holding moon rocks!’ You kind of remember why you got into it in the first place.”

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required) and see the archived news item “Water in Moon rocks provides clues and questions.” Image courtesy of D. Oda / HSA.

HIMB Drirector search flyer thumbnail

Aug 11: HIMB Director Candidate Seminars

Margaret McFall-Ngai

Professor
Dept of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

“Biology at an inflection point: Technological advances revolutionize the discipline”
Thursday 14 Aug. at 3 pm; UH Mānoa, POST Building 723

“Supporting marine science in an anthropocentric climate”
Monday 18 Aug. at 1 pm; HIMB, Pauley Classroom

For more information about the HIMB Director search process, please click here.

Waves in Kiribati

Aug 11: Atlantic warming source of recent Pacific climate trends

International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) researchers Axel Timmermann and Yoshimitsu Chikamoto partnered with colleagues at the University of New South Wales and University of Hawai‘i to solve the puzzle of why, contrary to climate model projections, observations show that in recent years the Pacific trade winds have strengthened, the eastern Pacific has cooled, and sea level has risen in the western Pacific. The source of these trends, they have found, is rapid warming of the Atlantic Ocean. Their findings from observations and modeling experiments are published in an online issue of Nature Climate Change.

Read more about it in Hawaii System News, Science 2.0, and Ars Technica. Image courtesy of A. Dean.

Photo of rock sampling at Lo'ihi

Aug 06: Ocean expedition maps Lō‘ihi’s deepest reaches

The Lō‘ihi Seamount is an active underwater volcano just over a half-mile below the ocean’s surface, 21 miles southeast of the island of Hawai‘i. Now there is a greater understanding of the youngest volcano in the Hawaiian island chain, and the role submerged volcanoes play in Earth’s history, after a scientific expedition in the summer of 2014 led by SOEST researchers aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor. “Lō‘ihi is a very wonderful natural laboratory in our backyard for studying earth processes that have happened in the past,” said Brian Glazer, associate professor of oceanography. “So while today, Lō‘ihi might be unique, there are times in Earth’s history that much of the global ocean looked like Lō‘ihi does today.”

Read more about it and watch the video at UH System News. Image courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic / Brian Glazer.

Photo of lionfish on cutting board

Aug 05: HIGP Scientists on Mars 2020 Rover Instrument Teams

NASA has announced the selection of seven science instruments for the Mars 2020 rover chosen from a field of 58 proposals received from researchers and engineers worldwide. Among the selections are the Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system, with team volcanologist HIGP’s Sarah Fagents who will work with the team's principal investigator Jim Bell (School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University). Also selected is the SuperCam instrument, with Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy experts HIGP’s Shiv Sharma and Anupam Misra who will work with the team's principal investigator Roger Wiens (Los Alamos National Laboratory).

Photo of lionfish on cutting board

Aug 04: Invasive lionfish likely safe to eat after all

Scientists have learned that recent fears of lionfish causing ciguatera poisoning, caused by toxins produced by single-celled dinoflagellates that reef fish sometimes eat, may be unfounded. If so, current efforts to control invasive lionfish by fishing derbies and targeted fisheries may remain the best way to control them. A new study published in Environmental Biology of Fishes may have an explanation for why, although lionfish often test positive for the toxin, as of July 2014 there are no known cases of ciguatera from eating them. Lead author Christie Wilcox of HIMB thinks it may be because venom proteins in the fish might act as toxin mimics. The fish’s proteins degrade with cooking, making them safe to eat, while ciguatoxins do not.

Read more about it at PhysOrg and Nature World News. Image courtesy of C. Wilcox, HIMB / SOEST.

Mike Garcia

Jul 30: Congratulations, Mike Garcia, on being named a 2014 AGU Fellow!

Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor Mike Garcia will be celebrated as an AGU Fellow on 17 December 2014 during the Honors Ceremony and banquet at the 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Established in 1962, the Fellows program recognizes AGU members who have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by a Union-wide committee of Fellows. Primary criteria for evaluation in scientific eminence are a major breakthrough or discovery, paradigm shift, or sustained impact.

Please see the EOS announcement PDF for more information.

Flossie model graphic

Jul 29: New research reveals vog’s effects on Hawai‘i’s weather

One might assume that a tropical storm moving through volcanic smog (vog) would sweep up the tainted air and march on, unchanged. However, a recent study from atmospheric scientists at SOEST revealed that although they are microscopic, gasses and particles from Kilauea volcano exerted an influence on Tropical Storm Flossie — affecting the formation of thunderstorms and lightning in the sizable storm. “We have a lightning detection network. We found when the vog plume was entrained in the deep clouds associated with Flossie, there was a great enhancement of lightning,” said professor Steven Businger, co-author with graduate assistant and lead author Andre Pattantyus of the paper in Geophysical Research Letters.

UPDATES regarding Hurricanes Iselle and Julio: an interview with Businger at Hawaii New Now and an article at Smithsonian.com. Watch the video interview with Businger at Hawaii News Now; read more about it at KITV4, West Hawaii Today, Reporting Climate Science, and in the UH System News. Image courtesy of Pattantyus and Businger.

Closeup of Kina the pseudorca

Jul 25: False killer whale helps study of hearing, echolocation

A pseudorca (Pseudorca crassidens), also called a false killer whale, is helping scientists at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) on Coconut Island with some very important research. Scientists say Kina is friendly, patient and incredibly smart — and the only false killer whale in the world dedicated to research. “We primarily look at the hearing and echolocation of dolphins and whales. We are really interested in how the animals hear and how they’re affected by loud sounds,” said Paul Nachtigall, director of the HIMB’s Marine Mammal Research Program (MMRP).

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2. Image courtesy of HIMB.

R/V Falkor and small boat Atreyu photo

Jul 24: “Aboard R/V Falkor

Oceanography assistant professor Erica Goetze, Oceanography grad student Chantel Chang, and Schmidt Ocean Institute (SIO)’s Carlie Wiener appeared on HPR’s Bytemarks Cafe on Wednesday 23 July 2014 to talk about their research cruise to Station ALOHA aboard R/V Falkor. Listen to the .mp3 here.

NEI wave energy conversion device photo

Jul 22: Navy investing in Kāne‘ohe wave energy testing

Work at the Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) located in Kāne‘ohe Bay off Marine Corps Base Hawaii has received $9 million from the U.S. Navy. The funds from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) are directed to the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i (ARL/UH), working with Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), to support industry testing of wave energy conversion devices. “It’s going to be the first grid-connected Wave Energy Test Site in the United States,” said HNEI director Richard Rocheleau. The funds will also benefit divers and remotely operated underwater vehicles.

Read more about it in Kaunānā, Pacific Business News, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii News Now, and UH System News. Image courtesy of Northwest Energy Innovations.

Photo of buoy

Jul 18: PacIOOS wave buoy in Majuro helps keep islanders safe

For people living on Majuro Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), if the ocean swell is too high, the safety of fishermen transiting out of the lagoon to open waters is threatened, homes and businesses may be flooded with seawater, roadways may become impassable, and even the runway strip at the airport may be rendered useless for large commercial aircraft. On 10 July 2014, the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) collaborated with partners to deploy a new Datawell Directional Waverider buoy named “Kalo” about one mile off the eastern shore of Majuro to provide a data stream of wave height, wave direction, wave period, and sea surface temperature every 30 minutes.

Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News. Image courtesy of PacIOOS.

Image of high sea level forcast

Jul 16: New tools forecast potential sea level flooding events

Seawater overtopping roadways or flooding homes and businesses in low-lying communities can threaten the public health and safety of Pacific Islanders. A team of physical oceanographers, including Oceanography postdoctoral researcher Martin Guiles and Oceanography professor Doug Luther, working with Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) has developed new tools to forecast potential inundation events so that affected communities can better prepare and respond to such threats days in advance. The forecast models are called the PacIOOS Six-Day High Sea Level Forecasts and the most recent developments include Apra Harbor in Guam and Malakai in Palau.

Read more about it in Kaunānā. Image courtesy of PacIOOS.

Graphic of lunar olivine

Jul 14: “Origins and Transport Mechanisms of Olivine on the Lunar Surface”

Laura Corley

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)

Tuesday 22 July at 7:30p
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC)
POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Please see the flyer PDF for more information.

C-MORE logo

Jul 11: C-MORE Hale on ThinkTech on OC16

C-MORE Hale and the great work conducted there are highlighted in a 30-minute segment on ThinkTech on OC16 that premiered on Sunday 13 July at 10:30 pm HST. The show includes a tour of the state-of-the-art facility led by the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education’s director Dave Karl.

SEM image colorized by Nancy Hulbirt

Jul 11: Ocean’s most abundant organisms have daily cycles

Communities of ocean microbes have their own daily cycles, and they are not all about the sun. Photoautotrophs — bacteria that use solar energy to help them photosynthesize food — have been known to sun themselves on a regular schedule. But in a new study published in the journal Science, researchers working at Station ALOHA, a deep ocean study site 100 km north of O‘ahu, observed different species of free-living, heterotrophic bacteria turning on diel cycling genes at slightly different times, suggesting a wave of transcriptional activity that passes through the microbial community each day. Oceanography professor and C-MORE co-PI and co-director Ed DeLong was head of the MIT team that made this discovery.

Read more about it in NSF’s Science360, National Geographic’s Not Exactly Rocket Science, Kaunānā, PhysOrg, and the UH Mānoa News. Image courtesy of SOEST.

Photo of whale bones

Jul 10: Whales revealed as marine ecosystem engineers

A paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment evaluates decades of research on the ecological role of great whales. The researchers suggest that the influence of these animals have been substantially undervalued because scientists have underestimated the degree to which the decline in whale population has altered marine ecosystems. The paper summarizes a strong body of evidence indicating that whale recovery “could lead to higher rates of productivity in locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth,” supporting robust fisheries. Oceanography professor Craig Smith, one of the co-authors, is an expert on the ecological importance of “whale falls” —  whale carcasses on the sea floor.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription reqired), Kaunānā, the UH System News, Tech Times, and iol scitech. Image courtesy of C. Smith / SOEST.

UH student band photo

Jul 10: “Name the Three Types of Rock: Balancing Music and Minerals”

The SOEST Graduate student blog “Real Science at SOEST” has posted a new article written by Geology & Geophysics(G&G) student Christine Waters, describing how she found a musical outlet that helped balance out her graduate school stress. Check it out, including a video of the UH Concert Band performing!

Image of scalloped shark

Jul 09: Four scalloped hammerhead shark populations at risk

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has classified as endangered and threatened four distinct populations of scalloped hammerhead sharks, a species whose fins are favored in shark fin soup. The central Pacific population, which includes animals living in Hawai‘i’s waters, is considered fairly healthy and isn’t being listed. Carl Meyer, assistant researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB), said demand for the scalloped hammerhead fins is driving overfishing of the species because the high number of fibers in the fins makes them particularly desirable. They’re better off in Hawai‘i in part because there isn’t a market for sharks as a commercial species in the islands, said Kim Holland, also a researcher at HIMB.

Read more about it in Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Image courtesy of Jamm Aquino / HSA.

Photo of particulate plastic marine debris

Jul 08: Dave Karl on ocean plastic mystery

Oceanography professor Dave Karl talked with Hawaii Public Radio’s “The Conversation” about a newly completed world-wide ocean survey that, surveying the major midocean gyres, found 99% less ocean plastic in the open water than researchers expected to document. There's speculation that the missing plastic bits may have found their way to the bellies of fish and possibly, ours. Karl is the director of the Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) and co-director of the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE).

Listen to the interview .mp3 here. Image courtesy of L. Marcus.

Image of Trichodesmium

Jul 03: Mysterious substance appearing at beaches: “Tricho”

A mysterious brown substance — a Trichodesmium algae bloom — recently appearing at beaches across Hawai‘i caused state health officials to issue a brown water advisory for Kaua‘i. Oceanography research associate Eric Grabowski talks about the unusual concentration of the algae, nicknamed ”Tricho”, with the same passion that miners talk about gold. “Because it’s not often that we see organisms that thick in the oligotrophic ocean, so it was pretty exciting to come upon this,” he said. Oceanography associate professor Matthew Church said the Tricho bloom plays an important role in our ocean ecosystem. “It captures nitrogen from the atmosphere and introduces it to the ocean water… it helps fertilize the waters around Hawai‘i.”

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2. Image courtesy of Micro*scope.

Image of Pisces and diver

Jul 02: Searching for History

The July-August 2014 issue of The Military Engineer reports on the multi-phase program known as the Hawaii Undersea Military Munitions Assessment (HUMMA) currently undertaking the unique challenge of characterizing a historic deep-water military munitions disposal site. From its start in 2006 through today, HUMMA has faced several unusual challenges, including an extremely large study area that is in perpetual darkness; complex safety and logistical requirements; and scarce information about the site history, leaving few appropriate benchmarks for investigation design and data evaluation. Margo Edwards, senior research scientist at Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) is HUMMA’s principal investigator.

Read more about it in The Military Engineer. Image courtesy of C. Wollerman / HURL.

3-d image of mesoscale eddy

Jul 01: Mesoscale eddies move far more water than thought

Researchers from the Ocean University of China and the UH Dept. of Oceanography have found that mesoscale eddies — spinning masses of water 50 to 300 miles in diameter that travel westward in the subtropics —  appear to carry far more water with them than scientists have previously imagined. Scientists have known about them for quite some time, but till now, very little was known about their size and movements. To find out more, the researchers analyzed data from both satellites and submersible probes. Putting all the data together, the team was able to see that such eddies can live for months, or even years. Oceanography professor Bo Qiu is one of the authors of the paper published in the journal Science.

Read more about it in PhysOrg. Image courtesy of S. Kryazhimskiy.

Image of fossil meteorite

Jun 30: New kind of meteorite “ancient asteroid destroyer”?

For 50 years, scientists have wondered what annihilated the ancestor of L-chondrites, the roof-smashing, head-bonking meteorites that frequently pummel Earth. Now, a 470-million-year-old fossil meteorite discovered in a southern Sweden limestone quarry may finally solve the mystery, scientists report in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The strange new rock may be the missing “other half” from one of the biggest interstellar collisions in a billion years. “Something we didn't really know about before was flying around and crashed into the L-chondrites,” said study co-author Gary Huss, a researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP).

Read more about it in LiveScience. Image courtesy of B. Schmitz, Lund University, Sweden, and Chicago’s Field Museum.

Image of snailfish

Jun 30: Unusual sea creatures found in Earth’s “last frontier”

“It’s definitely the last frontier on the planet,” said Jeffrey Drazen, an associate professor of Oceanography. He was a participant in a research cruise led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to the Kermadec Trench off the northeastern tip of New Zealand’s North Island — the fifth deepest trench in the world with a depth of 6.2 miles. The goal of the expedition, known as the Hadal Ecosystem Studies or HADES, was to study creatures that have adapted to the extreme pressure, temperatures around 34°F, and highly variable food supplies. “Some of these animals may have compounds that they use to deal with pressure that can be very important to industrial or bio-medical applications…,”  Drazen said.

Read more about it and watch the video at KITV4 (video autoplays) and in the archived SOEST news item. Image courtesy of WHOI.

Image of CTD prep

Jun 27: Fostering Hawai‘i’s young marine scientists

On Thursday 19 June 19, 2014 11 UH marine science students returned from the last of three research expeditions aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor. The group sailed to Station ALOHA, a long-term ocean sampling site 60 miles north of O‘ahu with chief scientist Oceanography assistant professor Erica Goetze. This makes a total of 58 undergraduate and graduate students who have had an opportunity to learn and train on board the R/V Falkor in 2014. One element that makes this cruise unique is the varied career levels of scientists on board: while student research projects were the focus of the expedition, Brian Taylor, Dean of SOEST, joined the cruise to map the seafloor between the islands of O‘ahu and Moloka‘i.

Read more about it at Kaunānā and in the UH Mānoa News. Image courtesy of C. Wiener, SIO.

Indonesian Throughflow graphic

Jun 26: New understanding could aid climate change forecasts

The passageway that links the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean is acting differently because of climate change, and now its new behavior could, in turn, affect climate in both ocean basins in new ways. James Potemra, HIGP associate specialist and manager of the IPRC”s APDRC, is a co-author of the study published in the 22 June 2014 online issue of Nature Geoscience. The scientists have found that the flow of water in the Indonesian Throughflow – the network of straits that pass Indonesia's islands – has changed since the late 2000s under the influence of dominant La Niña conditions. This could in turn affect climate in both ocean basins in new ways.

Read more about it at Kaunānā and in the UH System News. Image courtesy of J. Potemra / SOEST.

Image of collecting samples at Lo'ihi

Jun 25: Lō‘ihi iron-oxidizing bacteria focus of ocean expedition

Through 07 July 2014, SOEST researchers are leading an expedition to Lō‘ihi Seamount, southeast of the island of Hawai‘i, whose base remains largely unexplored. Brian Glazer, lead scientist and associate professor of Oceanography, and his team will map the Seamount’s deeper reaches aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor using the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)’s Sentry AUV. They will also collect water column samples and explore Lō‘ihi’s extraordinarily thick mats of iron-oxidizing bacteria, which are able to use iron as an energy source and create rust in the process. Processes at Lō‘ihi could be an important component in the Pacific Ocean’s iron and carbon cycling, Glazer said.

Read more about it and watch the video at KITV4 (video autoplays) with an update at Hawaii News Now; read more about it at in Hawai‘i Magazine, Hawaii Reporter, West Hawaii Today, Hawaii News Now, and UH System News. Image courtesy of B. Glazer and WHOI.

Image of white shark

Jun 23: Re-evaluation of size of white shark population

Oceanography associate specialist and PFRP manager Kevin Weng is a co-author of a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE (PDF) suggesting there are around 2,000 white sharks in the eastern North Pacific, not a mere 219 as research released three years ago had indicated. The earlier count was based on research at two sites — the Farallon Islands west of San Francisco, and nearby Tomales Point — where seals congregate, as do the sharks that eat them. Since sharks are difficult to count, and populations were so fluid at those two sites, researchers widened their research scope to include other known gathering spots from Mexico into British Columbia and Alaska, and accounted for all life stages of the animals.

Read more about it in Science Daily, the LA Times, the PBS News Hour, National Geographic, ScienceBlog, SpiegelOnline, The New Zealand Herald, Yahoo! News, TheJournal.ie, The Times (subscription required), Australia Plus, the Manila Standard Today, and Daily Mail. Image courtesy of K. Weng / SOEST.

'Artificial photosynthesis' graphic

Jun 23: Federal $3M grant for hydrogen energy research

The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding a $3 million grant to the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) to help fund ongoing research on the development of photo-electro-chemical (PEC) technologies. Also known as “Artificial Photosynthesis”, this technology combines advanced photovoltaic (PV) materials and catalysts into a single device that uses sunlight to split water into molecular hydrogen and oxygen. The “solar fuels” produced with this method can be stored, distributed and finally recombined into a fuel cell to generate electricity, with water as the only byproduct. This multi-disciplinary research program is led by assistant researcher Nicolas Gaillard at HNEI’s Thin Films Laboratory.

Read more about it in Pacific Business News and the Honolulu Civil Beat. Image courtesy of N. Gaillard / SOEST.

Image of SCOPE shield

Jun 16: $40 million funds microbial oceanography research

The Simons Foundation has awarded Edward DeLong and David Karl $40 million to lead the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE), making it the largest private foundation gift UH has ever received. SCOPE aims to further our understanding of the microscopic organisms that inhabit every drop of seawater and how those creatures control the movement and exchange of energy and nutrients, from the surface waters to the deep sea. UH is leading the project, with partners joining from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC) and University of Washington (UW).

Read more about it and watch the videos at Hawaii News Now, KHON2, KITV4, Kaunānā, Ka Leo O Hawai‘i, and on the UH News page; read about it in UH System News (update), the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Pacific Business News, Hawaii Reporter, Hawaii News Now, the UH press release, and listen to the interview with David Karl on HPR’s “The Conversation.” Image courtesy of SCOPE/SOEST.

Image of opah

Jun 16: Plastic-eating fish raise concerns about food toxicity

Looking at slides of plastic collected from fish stomachs, Oceanography professor Jeffrey Drazen discusses the debris found. “Each panel represents the pieces found in an individual fish. So these are the pieces found in a lancet fish. These are in an opah.” Opah have the heartiest appetite for plastic, which was found in 60 percent of the animals. A new UC Davis study magnifies concerns about the hazards of ingesting marine debris. “The most interesting thing these recent studies show is these plastics are sponges” for other contaminants, explains Drazen. “It’s not just worrying about eating the plastic and blocking the stomach. They’re vectors and they’re adding contaminants to fishes in the ocean.”

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now. Image courtesy of Anela Choy / SOEST.

Ala Wai turbidity graphic

Jun 13: New model predicts Ala Wai Canal brown water runoff

The first evidence for massive and abrupt iceberg calving in Antarctica, dating back 19,000 to 9,000 years ago, has been documented by an international team of geologists and climate scientists. Their findings are based on analysis of new, long deep sea sediment cores extracted from the region between the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. IPRC and Oceanography professor Axel Timmermann is a co-author of the study published in the 28 May 2014 issue of Nature bearing witness to an unstable Antarctic ice sheet that can abruptly reorganize Southern Hemisphere climate and cause rapid global sea level rise.

Read more about it in Kaunānā, Ka Leo O Hawai‘i, UH Mānoa News, and Scientific Computing. Image courtesy of F. Roedel, Alfred Wegener Institute.

Image of iceberg

Jun 02: Antarctic ice-sheet less stable than previously assumed

A team of oceanographers working with the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) has focused their work to help address questions such as whether you should go into the water after heavy rains, or where that brown water goes after it leaves the Ala Wai, and have created the PacIOOS Ala Wai Turbidity Plume Model. “[It] can help those who recreate in the Ala Moana and Waikīkī areas make more informed decisions about when and where they choose to enter the water, especially after significant rainfall,” explains Margaret McManus, professor of oceanography. “But please remember, the plume position and turbidity values are predictions and—like a weather forecast—contain uncertainties.”

Read more about it in the UH System News. Image courtesy of PacIOOS.

image of Hurricane Iniki over Kaua'i

Jun 01: Hurricane season is 01 June thru 30 November

The 2014 hurricane season begins on 01 June and ends on 30 November. To help you prepare for hurricanes (and other natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunami, and floods from other causes), the UH Sea Grant College Program’s Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards is available as a PDF or printed book. Keep track of weather conditions at the Hawai‘i Beach Hazard Forecast Site, the Meteorology Weather Server, and the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.

Image of Moon soil

May 30: Water in Moon rocks provides clues and questions

A recent review of hundreds of chemical analyses of Moon rocks indicates that the amount of water trapped in volcanic glasses or chemically bound in mineral grains inside lunar rocks in the Moon’s interior varies regionally — revealing clues about how water originated and was redistributed in the Moon. These discoveries provide a new tool to unravel the processes involved in the formation of the Moon, how the lunar crust cooled, and its impact history. The paper by HIGP / G&G / UH NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) graduate student Katie Robinson and HIGP researcher Jeff Taylor, was published in Nature Geoscience.

Read more about it in Kaunānā, PhysOrg, Science, UH System News, RedOrbit, and ABC Science Australia Image courtesy of G.J. Taylor / SOEST.

Maria and Rick Grigg

May 28: Rick Grigg (1937-2014)

We are very sorry to report that pioneering big-wave surfer and renowned oceanographer Richard W. "Rick" Grigg died on Wednesday 21 May at his home in Waialae Iki. He was 77.

Please see the video report and article at Hawaii News Now and the article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required) and the obituary in the LA Times.

Rene and Art Kimura

May 28: Kimuras named Living Treasures

Art and Rene Kimura were recently recognized as 2014 Living Treasures of Hawaii. Both are educational specialists with the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, and, among other projects, coordinate the Future Flight Hawaii program, which includes summer camps, and an extensive outreach program including family science nights.

Read more about them in the Hawaii Tribune Herald

Winds graphic

May 23: Trade winds getting blocked later than usual

Satellite screens show a low-pressure system taking a bite out of our trade winds. National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Robert Ballard said it’s a bit unusual to have this happening at this time of year. “For this late in the season, it’s a long stretch without trades,” he said. “What we’re seeing right now is more of a winter time or wet season pattern.” Any trade wind interruption makes it onto the radar of Meteorology professor and state climatologist Pao-Shin Chu, who said the state averages per year about 240 to 250 days with Northeast trades, but that history shows a pattern: “On average we are losing about one trade wind day per year,” he said. Chu said over the next several years, the number of trade wind days may continue to decrease.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now. Image courtesy of Hawaii News Now.

Image of surface of Mars

May 23: “Controversy of Mysterious Blueberries on Mars”

Anupam Misra

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)

Thursday 27 May at 7:30p
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC)
POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Please see the flyer PDF for more information.

Chip Fletcher Aquarium Distiguished Lecture image

May 19: “Sea Level on the Rise”

Chip Fletcher

Professor of G&G and SOEST Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Thursday 22 May at 7p
Mamiya Theatre, Saint Louis High School

Chip Fletcher, coastal geologist, professor of G&G, and SOEST’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, will be the first lecture of the Distinguished Lecture Series offered in celebration of the Waikīkī Aquarium’s 110th anniversary.

Image of Oahu map

May 16: Precursor volcano to the island of O‘ahu discovered

SOEST researchers, led by Geology emeritus professor John Sinton, and colleagues recently discovered that O‘ahu actually consists of three major Hawaiian shield volcanoes, not two, as previously thought. Extending almost 100 km from Ka‘ena Point, the western tip of the island of O‘ahu, is the submarine Ka‘ena Ridge, an area now recognized to represent a precursor volcano to the island. About 5 million years ago, Ka‘ena emerged from the seafloor and later provided the base upon which Wai‘anae and Ko‘olau volcanoes formed.

Read more about it in NBC News, Star-Advertiser, Live Science, and UH News. Image courtesy of J. Sinton / SOEST.

Image of climate change panel

May 13: Major concerns over Hawai‘i’s climate change

On the heels of the Obama administration releasing the National Climate Assessment, a panel of experts gathered at UH Mānoa to discuss not only the findings, but what they mean for Hawai‘i. “It’s not something that’s happening elsewhere at a future time. It’s happening now and it’s going to get much worse,” remarked Maxine Burkett of the Richardson School of Law and the UH Sea Grant College Program. While changes are coming, the panel said so too are opportunities. “[We’re] looking certainly at our energy production, that’s going to be the most important thing in Hawai‘i, ” she said.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now. Image courtesy of Hawaii News Now.

Image of coral in tank

May 12: Super corals used to create “designer” reefs

Scientists say corals are dying at an alarming rate, with countless diseases taking their toll. The race is on to reverse that trend. “If one is going to design an intervention and what we are suggesting is an intervention this is the time to do it. While you still have biological material to work with,” said the head researcher, Ruth Gates, a tenured researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Gates and a team of marine biologists are putting years of science to the test and breeding corals on Coconut Island. The goal, they said, is to create super “designer” corals that will be better fit to survive any environmental changes, such as increased temperature and acidity, ahead. They stress it is not a GMO reef.

Read more about it and watch the video at KITV4, and read more about it in the Huffington Post. Image courtesy of KITV4.

Image of tsunami debris

May 09: Tsunami taught valuable lessons on debris movement

Japan’s 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were unmitigated disasters with far-reaching effects that continue to be felt by many people. However, they also presented a unique opportunity for researchers to learn how wind and currents interact to push debris across the Pacific ocean. “The strongest contribution, the most important thing we learned from the tsunami, is the effect of the wind on debris,” said IPRC scientific computer programmer Jan Hafner, who worked with principal investigator Nikolai Maximenko on the debris movement models. Now, researchers say their window to learn from the disaster might be closing.

Read more about it in West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of West Hawaii Today; click on it to see the full version.

Image of rocket test

May 08: Partnership demonstrates fuel cells for He recovery

Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), together with Sierra Lobo Inc., has demonstrated the recovery of high-purity helium from hydrogen/helium mixtures produced at rocket engine testing sites using proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells. “HNEI optimized proton-exchange-membrane fuel cell technology to electrochemically separate the two gases,” explained HNEI director Richard Rocheleau. Separation was achieved by applying electrical energy to the fuel cell, rather than using it to produce energy.

Read more about it in the UH System News and Kaunānā. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of lava fountain

Apr 30: Deep origins to the behavior of our volcanoes

Kīlauea volcano, on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, typically has effusive eruptions, wherein magma flows to create ropy pāhoehoe lava, for example. However, Kīlauea less frequently erupts more violently, showering scoria and blocks over much of the surface of the island. To explain the variability in Kīlauea’s eruption styles, a team including Bruce Houghton, the Gordon Macdonald Professor of Volcanology in Geology and Geophysics (G&G), colleagues from the University of Cambridge (UC), and Don Swanson from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) analyzed 25 eruptions that have taken place over the past 600 years.

Read more about it in Kaunānā, BBC News, UH System News, West Hawaii Today, and Nature World News, and Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of USGS.

Ruth Gates award image

Apr 28: 2014 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research to Ruth Gates

The Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research is awarded by the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents in recognition of scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community. Congratulations to Ruth Gates, a tenured researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB)!

Read more about her work and the award in Kaunānā and the UH System News.

Image of WHOI ROV

Apr 22: Scientific mission explores one of the deepest trenches

Jeffrey Drazen, an Oceanography Associate Professor, joins an international team of researchers to use the world's only full-ocean depth, hybrid remotely operated vehicle, WHOI’s Nereus, and other advanced technology to explore life in the depths of the Kermadec Trench. The 40-day expedition, which began on 12 April 2014, kicks off an ambitious three-year collaborative effort funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Kermadec Trench, off the northeastern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, is the fifth deepest trench in the world with a maximum of depth of 10,047 meters (32,963 feet or 6.24 miles). It is also one of the coldest trenches due to the inflow of deep-water originating from Antarctica.

Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News, the UH System News, and at KNON2. Image courtesy of WHOI.

Image of Turnif Seamount

Apr 21: Charting the seafloor of Papahānaumokuākea MNM

On 11 April 2014, scientists returned from a 36-day mapping expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. PMNM is the largest protected area in the United States, encompassing an area greater than all its national parks combined, yet over half its seafloor has never been mapped in detail due to the limited availability of the advanced sonar systems required. The survey, carried out aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s (SOI) 272-foot R/V Falkor, mapped over 40,000 square kilometers (15,445 square miles) of previously unmapped or poorly mapped areas inside the Monument. This represents approximately 11 percent of the total area of PMNM.

Read more about it and watch the video at KITV4; in the UH Mānoa News, in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), and Kaunānā. Image courtesy of C. Kelly / HURL.

PRPDC image

Apr 17: “Volcanic Activity on Early Mercury”

Lionel Wilson

Emeritus Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences,
Lancaster University

Tuesday 22 April • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Please download the flyer PDF.

Graphic of Pacific subsurface temperatures

Apr 14: IPRC and Meteorology scientists warn of “big El Niño”

A huge mass of warm water churning across the tropical Pacific points to the development of a periodic phenomenon that typically brings destructive weather across far reaches of the planet, two SOEST scientists warn. Axel Timmermann, a professor of Oceanography with the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), says, “I would say there is an 80 percent chance that a big El Niño will develop by the end of the year.” In agreement is Fei-Fei Jin, a professor of Meteorology. “Most people are still cautious, but we have a bunch of experts here on the campus who have been very watchful of this for over a month and we are thinking it could be a pretty serious one.” In Hawai‘i the results could mean a dry winter and wet summer, forecasters say.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), KHVH.com and New Scientist. Image courtesy of M. Widlansky, IPRC/SOEST (click on it to see the full version).

Satellite mage of Niishima

Apr 08: Niijima Island merges with older neighbor

NASA’s Earth Observatory reports that Niijima island, a volcano which broke through the ocean’s surface last November, has now merged with nearby Nishinoshima island, which formed 40 years ago. The new island is about a kilometer (six-tenths of a mile) across and 60 meters (almost 200 feet) above sea level at its highest point. At its size in December, the new island was expected to last several years, according to Japanese scientists. Because it has continued to grow, it could last much longer. “A lot of it depends on how fast it erodes,” Ken Rubin, Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor and expert in deep submarine volcanism, told CNN after the island broke the surface last year. “Until it shuts off, it’s too soon to tell.”

Read more about it at CBS12. Image courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory.

Image of HI_SEAS crew member

Apr 04: Second HI-SEAS Mars space analog study begins

A new space odyssey began on Friday 28 March 2014 as the six crew members of the new Hawai‘i Space Exploration and Analog Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission entered their remote habitat on the first night of a four-month-long journey. Using surveillance cameras, electronic surveys, crew member diaries, and other sources, researchers will be keeping an eye on the crew. Researchers are tracking group cohesion and a wide range of cognitive, social, and emotional factors. They are particularly interested in how technical, social, and task roles within the group evolve over time and how they affect performance. Kim Binsted, ICS associate professor and G&G grad student, is principal investigator for HI-SEAS.

Read more about it and watch the video at UH System News, Kaunānā, and Big Island Video News; read more about it at Kaunānā. Image courtesy of Y. Sierra-Sastre.

IHI-SEAS logo

Apr 02: “HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation): How can we ensure that crews survive, and thrive, on long-duration space exploration missions?”

Kim Binsted

Information and Computer Sciences (ICS)

Tue 08 Apr • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public.

Image of landslide damage

Apr 02: Officials aim to prevent landslides in Hawai‘i

As of Monday 31 March the death toll from the Stillagumish River, WA, landslide had grown to 24, with another 22 people missing. KHON2 wondered if something like that could happen in Hawaii, so turned to Geology & Geophysics (G&G) professor Steve Martel. He says while the topography and soil conditions need to be taken into consideration, all you need is one trigger, and lots of it, to cause a landslide. Martel referenced the Makaha Valley disaster of 1996 as an example, when boulders, water, and mud cascaded down the mountain. That landslide, and a couple of flooding events since, have attracted the attention of officials, and a study has been initiated in the effort to prevent another disaster in the region.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2 and KITV4. Image courtesy of KHON2.

Photo of former Vice President Al Gore

Stephen and Marylyn Pauley Seminars in Sustainability

Apr 02: Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to present public lecture

Tuesday 15 April • 7 pm
Stan Sheriff Center, UH Mānoa

The UH Sea Grant College Program and US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) have announced that former US Vice President Al Gore will present a free public lecture as the capstone of the day-long summit organized by UH and Senator Schatz. Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News.

Image of tsunami propagation forecast

Apr 01: Tsunami advisory issued, but no major threat seen

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) officials in Honolulu issued a tsunami advisory for the islands, saying that while a major seismic wave is not expected, sea-level changes and strong currents may occur starting early Wednesday morning. The advisory comes after a magnitude-8.2 quake struck off the coast of Chile that sent tsunami of more than six feet to Chilean coastal cities. “Based on all available data a major tsunami is not expected to strike the state of Hawai‘i. However, sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas,” the advisory said. The threat may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival at about 3:24 am, officials said.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Image courtesy of the National Tsunami Warning Center; click on it to see the full version.

Image of diver and munitions

Mar 31: Scientists to investigate munitions at sea

Scientists are revisiting previously-found munitions dumped at sea to determine whether the materials still pose a threat to human health and the environment. In 2007, UH was awarded money to conduct the Hawaii Undersea Military Munitions Assessment (HUMMA) in response to KHON2’s “Buried at Sea” series, which uncovered the dumping of thousands of military munitions decades ago just off the Waianae coast. “Specifically, we’re looking for mustard agent,” said HIGP researcher and CIMES director Margo Edwards. “The message that I want to get out is the fact that we are detecting mustard in the sediments about two meters around these munitions.”

Read more about and watch the video at KITV4, Hawaii News Now, and KHON2; read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), Kaunānā, and KHON2. Image courtesy of KHON2.

Image of vog over Hawaiian Islands

Mar 28: Year-long allergy season due to Hawai‘i’s “vog”

Medical officials in Hawai‘i are seeing an influx of patients complaining of year-round allergies with no relief in sight. Many of the cases share a cause-and-effect relationship with volcanic smog — primarily a mixture of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and sulfate (SO4) aerosol — also known as “vog.” Geology & Geophysics (G&G) researchers Kevin Johnson and Thomas Shea, and Meteorology professor Steven Businger, director of the Vog Measurement and Prediction Project (VMAP), discuss the on-going volcanic eruption at Kīlauea on Hawai‘i Island, the composition of the haze, and the effects on the comfort and health of Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors.

Read more about it at AccuWeather.com. Image courtesy of S. Businger / SOEST.

Image of tablet wet test

Mar 28: HIMB PhD student finalist for elite award for innovation

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) graduate student John Burns has been selected as a finalist for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. From a pool of more than 1,800 applicants from 129 countries around the world, Burns is one of 22 finalists. The award is targeted to innovators under 30 years of age. The Papaikou resident is one of only three finalists from the United States. Burns’ big idea is to develop and distribute novel waterproof electronic tablets to support community-based monitoring and conservation of coral reef ecosystems in Hawai‘i. The concept is rooted in years of outreach work with communities on the Big Island.

Read more about it in Big Island Now, Kaunānā, and the UH Mānoa News. Image courtesy of the National Park of University of Hawai‘i.

Image of Kodiak AK tsunami damage

Mar 27: 9.2 earthquake changed thinking about tsunamis

The great Alaska earthquake of 27 March 1964, with a magnitude of 9.2, was and remains the largest quake ever recorded in the United States and the second largest anywhere, beaten only by the 9.5 quake in Chile in 1960. This megaquake not only devastated a vast swath of south-central Alaska, killing 131 people and causing $2.3 billion in damage (in today’s dollars), it shook up scientific notions about how great quakes are generated, affirming the then-still-novel theory of plate tectonics. Ocean and Resource Engineering (ORE) professor Kwok Fai Cheung, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) scientist Gerard Fryer, and Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) interim director Rhett Butler are interviewed.

Read more about it and watch the video in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of the US Geological Survey.

Image of HIGP director search flyer

Mar 25: Finalists named to lead Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)

Three finalists have been identified for the position of Director of HIGP:

Rhett Butler (April 21-22) Interim Director, HIGP;
Jonathan Dehn (April 28-29) Research Professor, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks
John LaBrecque (May 1-2) Lead, Earth Surface and Interior Focus Area, NASA Science Mission Directorate

They are scheduled to participate in two-day visits that cover department discussions; meetings with senior administrators, faculty, staff, students, and internal and external constituents; and a public presentation. Please visit UH System News for details.

Photo of Gavin Mura

Mar 19: Congratulations, Gavin!

Gavin Mura is a senior Global Environmental Science (GES) student doing his thesis work as a C-MORE Scholar. He just won Best Undergraduate Poster in the 2014Tester Symposium.

Image of flat top coral

Mar 18: Strong El Niño events leading to lower local sea levels

During very strong El Niño events, sea level drops abruptly in the tropical western Pacific and tides remain below normal for up to a year in the South Pacific, especially around Samoa. The Samoans call the wet stench of coral die-offs arising from the low sea levels taimasa (pronounced [kai’ ma’sa]). The international study to uncover the reasons for this phenomenon and its climate effects was spearheaded by International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) postdoctoral fellow Matthew Widlansky and was recently published in the Journal of Climate.

Read more about it in Red Orbit, Science Daily, and Meteo Giuliacci. Image courtesy of the National Park of American Samoa.

COSEE-IE logo

Mar 15: “All Things Marine”

Thursday 13 March 2014 • 5-6 pm

Listen to the archived podcast of Carlie Wiener, COSEE-IE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) Program Manager, and her monthly series “All Things Marine” on Hawaii’s Tomorrow. The COSEE Island Earth program, in conjunction with HIMB, is pleased to present with renowned oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle, as well as the graduate students who recently led the Schmidt Ocean Institute R/V Falkor Student Research Cruise in conjunction with the University of Hawai‘i. Stay tuned for riveting discussion with: Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, Mission Blue; Adrienne Copeland, PhD Candidate, University of Hawai‘i; Jessica Chen, PhD Candidate, University of Hawai‘i; Ali Bayless, bioacoustician, Joint Institute of Marine Biology.

As always, visit the broadcast archive for podcasts of previous shows.

Image of R/V Falkor

Mar 12: Grad students lead research effort aboard the R/V Falkor

Scientists from SOEST have been allocated more than 100 days at sea, spread out over the next six months, aboard the R/V Falkor, the oceanographic research ship belonging to the Schmidt Ocean Institute. PhD candidate Adrienne Copeland was the chief scientist for the first cruise in mid-February, the first ever student-led cruise on the R/V Falkor, which focused on deep-diving toothed species — beaked, short-finned pilot and endangered sperm whales — found in Hawaiian waters. Numerous questions remain about what determines the feeding behaviors of these whales in the deep sea.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now; read more about it in the UH System News and at in the cruise blog “The Secret Lives of Whales.” Image courtesy of M. Schrope.

Photo of Dave Karl

Mar 10: David Karl selected for first Pavel Endowed Chair in Ocean and Earth Science and Technology

The Victor and Peggy Brandstrom Pavel Endowed Chair in Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at SOEST has been established with a $2,080,000 gift, and David M. Karl, professor of Oceanography and director of the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), is the first recipient. Congratulations, Dave!

Read more about it at Kuanānā and Hawaii News Now.

Image of CTD deployment

Mar 10: Station ALOHA: A laboratory for studying the sea

“Aloha” is the Hawaiian word for love and affection, commonly used alone or in phrases of fond greeting or farewell. Sixty miles north of O‘ahu, at a lonely spot in the Pacific Ocean, the word has a different meaning: “A Long-term Oligotrophic Habitat Assessment.” This year marks 25 years since Oceanography professors David Karl and Roger Lukas established Station ALOHA in a 6-mile-radius circle centered at 22° 45' N, 158° W. Since then, the remote outpost has become legendary: as part of the Hawaiian Ocean Time-series program (HOT) it has offered up an invaluable long-term record of the chemistry and biology found at a typical deep spot in the subtropical North Pacific.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of P. Lethaby.

Image of Ruth Gates and coral tests

Mar 07: HIMB researcher sees oceans growing too acidic

On Coconut Island, Ruth Gates is in her own race against time. The Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) researcher sees the oceans growing too acidic, too quickly for many marine species to handle the change. Without drastic steps to curb man-made carbon emissions, they say, many coral reefs that support fisheries, protect coast lines from storm surge, and attract tourists will dwindle and disappear in the coming decades. “We can confirm that reefs are declining. There‘s no disputing that,” Gates said. “But it's not all doom and gloom.” Gates has spent the past several years scrambling to find the hardiest, strongest coral that can endure the warmer and more acidic seas of the future.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of D. Oda / doda@staradvertiser.com.

Image of 'opihi

Mar 07: Scientists urge lawmakers to protect Hawai‘i’s ‘opihi

Experts want Hawai‘ lawmakers to update regulations meant to protect ‘opihi, a tasty mollusk whose numbers have crashed in parts of the state. Biologists with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) told a House panel on Wednesday that stocks of the ocean snails off Oahu's shores are at dire lows. But with better management, they said, O‘ahu’s ‘opihi can make a comeback and other islands’ stocks can be protected. Chris Bird, a researcher with HIMB and an assistant professor at Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) and HIMB associate researcher Rob Toonen said size regulations meant to safeguard ‘opihi are failing in part because different varieties reach sexual maturity at very different sizes.

Read more about it in The Greenfield Daily Reporter and KPUA. Image courtesy of C. Bird.

Image of hadal snailfish

Mar 06: How deep can a fish go? Scientists may have answer

Oceanography associate professor Jeff Drazen is a co-author on a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that may explain why fish are not found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Working with translucent hadal snailfish caught at a depth of 4.3 miles, researchers measured levels of a molecule, trimethylamine oxide, that helps protect proteins under pressure (and gives fish their distinctive odor). There appears to be a natural limit to the amount of it a fish can contain and, as a result, scientists say they’ve concluded that fish likely can't survive below about 5.1 miles. That would mean no fish at all live in the deepest one-quarter of the world’s oceans.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and SF Gate. AP Photo / University of Aberdeen.

Image of HI-SEAS habitat

Mar 04: Cooperation focus of upcoming simulated Mars mission

Unexpectedly high water found in 2012 in the Humu‘ula saddle region, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the island of Hawai‘i, has prompted a researcher to seek permission for a new site for additional tests. In a recent draft environmental assessment, Donald Thomas, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) faculty member and director of UH Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), noted several reasons to conduct the additional research. “Recent decades have seen a substantial increase in the use and ‘occupancy’ of the higher elevation areas of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea…” which often depend on trucking in water.

Read more about it the West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of West Hawaii Today.

Image of Martian blueberries

Mar 03: Martian “blueberries” really pieces of meteorites?

The famed “blueberry” rocks discovered on Mars by NASA’s Opportunity rover are not geological evidence of ancient water on the red planet, HIGP researchers Anupam Misra, Tayro Acosta-Maeda, Ed Scott, and Shiv Sharma now argue. Instead, they propose in a paper in Planetary and Space Science that the tiny spherules are actually remnants of small meteorites that broke up in Mars’ atmosphere. “None of the physical properties of the spherules match the concretion model,” says lead author Misra. “But the meteorite theory explains all of their properties.” The biggest issue with the concretion model is the narrow range of spherule size, he adds.

Read more about it in National Geographic and The Daily Mail. Image courtesy of NASA.

Image of shark with video recorder and sensors

Mar 02: “Shark’s eye” view: witnessing the life of a top predator

Instruments strapped onto and ingested by sharks are revealing novel insights into how one of the most feared and least understood ocean predators swims, eats, and lives. For the first time, researchers at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) and the University of Tokyo outfitted sharks with sophisticated sensors and video recorders to measure and see where they are going, how they are getting there, and what they are doing once they reach their destinations.“What we are doing is really trying to fill out the detail of what their role is in the ocean,” said Carl Meyer, an assistant researcher at HIMB. “It has really drawn back the veil on what these animals do and answered some longstanding questions.”

Read more about it and watch the video at Time, National Geographic, KuanānāNature World News, The Daily Mail, UPI, and KITV4; read more about it in Honolulu Civil Beat. Image courtesy of M. Royer / UH.

COSEE-IE logo

Feb 28: “All Things Marine”

Monday 24 February 2014 • 5-6 pm

Listen to the archived podcast of Carlie Wiener, COSEE-IE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) Program Manager, and her monthly series “All Things Marine” on Hawaii’s Tomorrow. The COSEE Island Earth program, in conjunction with HIMB, is pleased to present “Special Episode: 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting.” This episode features: Dr. Tracy Wiegner, Associate Professor of Marine Science, University of Hawaii Hilo; Eric Tong, Graduate Student, Dept. of Oceanography, University of Hawaii; Dr. Kaipo Perez, Ocean and Recreation Specialist with the City and County of Honolulu; Mallory Watson, Scientist, COSEE Florida; Emily Gonzales, Communications Graduate Assistant, COSEE Island Earth; Dr. Richard Tankersly, Professor of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, COSEE Florida; and Dr. Richard Feely, Senior Scientist, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory & Affiliate Faculty School of Oceanography, University of Washington.

As always, visit the broadcast archive for podcasts of previous shows.

Image of Michele Nishiguchi and Phil Taylor

Feb 27: Candidates named for Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology director

Two finalists, Michele Nishiguchi (above left) and Phil Taylor (above right) have been identified for the position of director, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Both are scheduled to participate in two-day visits that cover department discussions; meetings with senior administrators, faculty, staff, students and internal and external constituents; and a public presentation. Please visit the UH News page for details and schedules of events.

Image of Mauna Kea

Feb 20: Mauna Kea aquifers shallower than expected

Unexpectedly high water found in 2012 in the Humu‘ula saddle region, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the island of Hawai‘i, has prompted a researcher to seek permission for a new site for additional tests. In a recent draft environmental assessment, Donald Thomas, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) faculty member and director of UH Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), noted several reasons to conduct the additional research. “Recent decades have seen a substantial increase in the use and ‘occupancy’ of the higher elevation areas of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea…” which often depend on trucking in water.

Read more about it the West Hawaii Today. Image courtesy of West Hawaii Today.

PRPDC image

Feb 19: “The Icy Poles of the Moon: The Most Valuable Real Estate In the Solar System”

Paul Lucey

Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)

Tuesday 24 February • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public.

Image of Michael Cooney in lab

Feb 14: Renewable energy the focus of unique partnership

Researchers from the the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) are working with Maui-based company Pacific Biodiesel to develop a way to make water from restaurant grease traps reusable. The collaboration is an example of a new type of partnership between local businesses and the state’s public university. “It is kind of a novel incubator way to bridge technology from the university into industry and vice versa,” said HNEI associate researcher Michael Cooney. The technology may end up having a global impact on the wastewater industry.

Read more about it and watch the video in the UH System News; read more about it in Biodiesel Magazine. Image courtesy of HNEI.

Image of drift model animation

Feb 13: IPRC model supports castaway fisherman’s journey

The International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) Ocean Drift Model developed by senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko and scientific computer programmer Jan Hafner that is used to track tsunami debris from Japan supports the improbable account of Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a Salvadoran fisherman, who says he survived more than a year adrift at sea before his boat washed ashore in the Marshall Islands. The 16 paths simulated in the model follow a remarkably narrow path over this long period of time toward and beyond Ebon Atoll, not more than about 120 miles apart. Click here or on the image to watch the animation in a new window.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required), the UH System News, and Australia Network News. Image courtesy of IPRC; click on it to watch the animation.

Terry Kerby and Pisces IV

Feb 12: Human-manned subs being phased out — at what cost…?

An article in the Honolulu Civil Beat profiles Terry Kerby, Hawai’i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) chief pilot and director of submarine operations, and reviews the extraordinary history of HURL’s submersible program. HURL expeditions have included the discovery of the historic World War II Japanese midget submarine, groundbreaking research on the new Hawaiian island that is growing east of the Big Island, and played a key role in breakthrough findings on monk seal habitats that have facilitated conservation efforts, to name but a few. But now, says John Wiltshire, the lab’s director, the program is in danger of shutting down.

Read more about it the Honolulu Civil Beat. Image courtesy of PF Bentley / Civil Beat; click on it to go to the full version.

Image of shark tagging

Feb 07: Researchers tag more tiger sharks to track online

Researchers from Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) completed the second phase of a project to observe the movements of tiger sharks caught and tagged around the island of Maui. The study, funded by the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), is in response to a recent uptick in the number of shark attacks recorded around the Valley Isle. Lead scientists Carl Meyer and Kim Holland report that in early 2014 their team caught and released nine tiger sharks in waters off Maui. The near-real-time tracks of these sharks will be added to the eight tracks already on the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) Hawai‘i Tiger Shark Tracking web page.

Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News, Kaunānā, and the Hawaii Reporter. Image courtesy of M. Royer / HIMB; click on it to see the full version.

Image of Opportunity rover tracks on Mars

Jan 30: Mars or bust: putting humans on the Red Planet

Some of the earliest science fiction imagined voyages to the Red Planet. We now have the space-faring technology, and getting humans to Mars actually seems within reach. There are, of course, many concerns about sending people to Mars, so in preparation researchers are conducting experiments at sites built to simulate these long-duration missions. Kim Binsted (ICSD, UHNAI, and G&G) is principle investigator of one of those programs: Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) on the bare rocky slopes Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai‘i. In a 1,000-sq-ft geodesic dome, six scientists live and work for months. And, simulating working conditions on Mars, the crew can only go outside in mock spacesuits.

Read more about it and listen to the podcast at KUHF. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University.

Image of shoreline erosion

Jan 29: Realigning highway on O‘ahu’s North Shore urged

With highway traffic and beach erosion as two growing North Shore problems, community activists headed to Laniakea Beach on Saturday, where State Senator Clayton Hee (D-District 23) announced two new bills he said he hopes will finally spur some meaningful action on those issues. Dolan Eversole, NOAA Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Region, comments on the plan, which would task UH Sea Grant with creating a North Shore beach management plan. The plan would likely be similar to the Kailua Beach and Dune Management Plan developed in 2010 which outlines a suite of options for this area.

Read more about it and watch the video at KHON2, Hawaii News Now and KITV4; read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of KHON2.

Image of CTD deployment in Ke'ehi Lagoon, Honolulu.

Jan 29: “A Bittersweet Cruise”

Check out the new story “A Bittersweet Cruise” on the SOEST grad student blog; it was written by Donn Viviani (Dept of Oceanography) about bacteria and their sweet tooth after the molasses spill in Ke‘ehi Lagoon in Honolulu in September 2013.

Read more about it at Real Science at SOEST. Image courtesy of Fenina Buttler.

Image of sun and interplanetary dust

Jan 27: Space dust carries water and organic compounds

In a paper recently published in PNAS, researchers from the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LLBL), and University of California – Berkeley report that interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) could deliver water and organics to the Earth and other terrestrial planets. “It is a thrilling possibility that this influx of dust has acted as a continuous rainfall of little reaction vessels containing both the water and organics needed for the eventual origin of life…,” said Hope Ishii, associate researcher at HIGP and co-author of the study with John P. Bradley and Jeffrey J. Gillis-Davis, both also of HIGP, and their colleagues.

Read more about it in UH Mānoa News, Kaunānā, Raising Islands, and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required) New Scientist, Science Daily, Newspoint Africa, and R&Dmag. Also, listen to the interview (.mp3) with John Bradley on Hawai‘i Public Radio’s “The Conversation”. Image courtesy of John Bradley, UHM SOEST/ LLNL.

COSEE-IE logo

Jan 24: “All Things Marine”

Wednesday 29 January 2014 • 5-6 pm

Listen to the archived podcast of Carlie Wiener, COSEE-IE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) Program Manager, and her monthly series “All Things Marine” on Hawaii’s Tomorrow. The COSEE Island Earth program, in conjunction with HIMB, is pleased to present “Research Through the Ages: The C-MORE Scholars Program and Cascadia Research.” This episode features Kimberly Thomas, co-manager of the CMORE Scholars Program, and participating students Paul Bump and Daren Martin. Dr. Robin Baird from Cascadia Research Collective will also be joining us. Topics include exciting research updates on Hawai‘i’s marine mammals focusing on the false killer whale, and student research completed through the C-MORE Scholars Program.

As always, visit the broadcast archive for podcasts of previous shows.

Shark image

Jan 21: Surge in shark attacks causes alarm in Hawai‘i

In 2013, there were 14 shark attacks in the waters around Hawai‘i, eight off the coast of Maui alone, including two fatalities. Although some speculate that there may be something to do with the recovery of the sea turtle population or the Japanese tsunami, there's no evidence to support those ideas. Carl Meyer, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) assistant researcher, points out that one of the more reasonable explanations is simply the increase of people in the water. He notes that there are more kayak fisherman, kite surfers, and paddle boarders than a few decades ago, and a new study he’s leading will look at whether tiger sharks are more prevalent in areas of Maui where those sports are most popular.

Read more about it and watch a related video at the LA Times; read more about it The Wire and Hawaii Civil Beat. Track the movement of several tagged tiger sharks at PacIOOS’s Hawai‘i Tiger Shark Tracking site. Read about the increase in sales of “shark deterrent device” on Maui at AP.com, which includes comments by Meyer (added 01-27-14). Image courtesy of HIMB.

PRPDC image

Jan 23: “ATLAS: Asteroid Terrestrial Last-Alert System Saving the World from Asteroid Impacts

Larry Denneau

Institute for Astronomy (IfA)

Tuesday 28 January • 7:30 pm
NASA Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center (PRPDC), POST 544, UH Mānoa

This FREE lecture is open to the public. Download the flyer PDF for more information.

Image of coral collection

Jan 15: HNEI installs PV systems at public schools

As part of ongoing energy efficiency and solar research being conducted by the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), six solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays totaling 15 kW in capacity were recently installed in Hawai‘i. Three “net zero energy” (NZE) buildings created by California-based Project Frog Inc. are the most recent experimental platforms used for PV performance research being conducted by the Institute. HNEI director Richard Rocheleau said, “These installations are part of a larger HNEI research endeavor to evaluate and compare the performance of traditional and emerging PV materials and inverter technologies.”

Read more about it in the Pacific Business News, UH Mānoa News, and Kaunānā. Image courtesy of HNEI / SOEST.

Image of Palmyra atoll

Jan 15: Palmyra atoll trove of research vital to Hawai‘i’s future

Conservationists say it‘s time that Palmyra atoll, a national marine monument, becomes better known for its current role as a living laboratory that can unlock some of the environmental mysteries keeping scientists up at night. The science being done on the atoll, they say, holds valuable lessons for Hawai‘i, especially when it comes to understanding sharks, preserving coral reefs, and combating invasive species. Nature Conservancy science specialist Kydd Pollock noted that Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) assistant researcher Greta Aeby’s innovative work at the atoll into stopping the spread of coral disease ultimately could be used in Hawai‘i to stop outbreaks in Kāne‘ohe Bay and areas off Kaua‘i and Maui.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy.

Graphic of sea level rise

Jan 13: Experts urge lawmakers to address climate change

As they appealed to lawmakers to take action now to protect the state’s irreplaceable resources, experts painted a sobering picture of Hawai‘i’s future in the face of projected climate change, using models depicting Waikīkī and Honolulu slipping under water. “We might expect and plan for one foot of sea level rise by the year 2050 and one meter or three feet of sea level rise by the year 2100,” explained Dolan Eversole of the UH Sea Grant College Program. While there’s little we can do to mitigate climate change without major reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not too late to adapt to the expected impacts by designing and building our communities to be safer, urge scientists.

Read more about it and watch the video at Hawaii News Now. Image courtesy of NOAA; click on it to see the full version.

Image of coral collection

Jan 08: HURL enables discovery of long-term ecosystem shift

The Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has enabled scientists to determine that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC) analyzed deep-sea corals gathered near the Hawaiian Islands using the HURL Pisces V, submersible. They observed overall nitrogen fixation in the North Pacific Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the mid 1800s and this long-term change appears to be continuing today, according to a study published recently in the journal, Nature.

Read more about it in the UH Mānoa News, Kaunānā, and Raising Islands, and Asian American Press. Image, which was used on the cover of Nature, courtesy of M. Cremer / HURL.

Image of house on eroding shore

Jan 08: Fast-moving erosion threatens Hawai‘i coastal homes

The large Christmas 2013 swell damaged at least five oceanfront properties on the North Shore of O‘ahu, rekindling the debate about how state officials and homeowners should best respond to beach erosion and the rising waters of the Pacific Ocean. Some property owners want to be able to install a seawall, or something similar, to protect their property. Coastal geologist Charles “Chip” Fletcher, professor of G&G and SOEST’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, said building seawalls always comes to mind wherever severe erosion occurs, but that studies show seawalls built on chronically eroding shorelines like Sunset Beach will only lead to more erosion down the coast.

Read more about it in the CBS News. Image courtesy AP.

Photo of Terry Kerby

Jan 08: Under the surface with HURL

Not too many people know their office equipment as well as Terry Kerby knows his. He spends five months every year taking his apart and then putting it back together, piece by piece. Then again, not too many people rely on their gear to survive at more than 6,000 feet below the ocean's surface. Kerby is chief pilot at the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL), commanding its two submersible vehicles, the Pisces IV and the Pisces V, to explore the depths of the ocean. It's a position that gives him “a big rush, like it's the first time,” every time he dives, yet the danger involved is enough to generate chills as well.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of Craig T. Kojima / ckojima@staradvertiser.com.

Image of wood debris

Jan 08: Heavier debris finds isle shores

Since September, there's been a “dramatic” turn in the tsunami debris washing ashore in the Aloha State, scientists say. International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) researchers monitoring that debris say objects such as boats, buoys, and lighter materials are being replaced with a steady stream of heavier wooden beams and planks. The wood appears to be lumber that was used for homes, buildings, and telephone poles. “So far, we have opinions that yes, these objects are from Japan,” said IPRC senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko.

Read more about it in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of G. Speidel / IPRC.

Image of rooftops w/ PV panels

Jan 07: Batteries put to test in photovoltaic plan

Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) and the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) are launching a project in a West O‘ahu neighborhood to see whether battery technology can be effectively used to open the utility’s grid to greater amounts of solar power produced by rooftop photovoltaic panels. The project, in a neighborhood with one of the island’s highest concentrations of PV panels, is among three ventures being undertaken by HECO and HNEI statewide, investigating how battery technology can be used to overcome limits on the amount of intermittent renewable energy the state’s electric utilities can accept.

Read more about it in Kaunānā and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required). Image courtesy of Alan Yonan / ayonan@staradvertiser.com.

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